Obama, Fukui

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For other uses, see Obama (disambiguation).
"Obama, Japan" redirects here. For the town in Nagasaki, see Obama, Nagasaki.
Flag of Obama
Location of Obama in Fukui Prefecture
Location of Obama in Fukui Prefecture
Obama is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 35°30′N 135°45′E / 35.500°N 135.750°E / 35.500; 135.750Coordinates: 35°30′N 135°45′E / 35.500°N 135.750°E / 35.500; 135.750
Country Japan
Region Chūbu (Hokuriku)
Prefecture Fukui Prefecture
 • Mayor Toshio Murakami
 • Total 232.85 km2 (89.90 sq mi)
Population (2005)
 • Total 32,185
 • Density 138.22/km2 (358.0/sq mi)
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
City hall address 6-3 Ote-machi, Obama-shi, Fukui-ken
Website www1.city.obama.fukui.jp
City hall

Obama (小浜市 Obama-shi?) is a city in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. It faces Wakasa Bay due north of Kyoto, and is about four to seven hours by train from Tokyo.

As of October 1, 2005, the city has an estimated population of 32,185 and a population density of 138.22 persons per km². The total area is 232.85 km².

Obama gained publicity in the United States and elsewhere in 2008, as it shares its name with the then-senator Barack Obama, who was running for President of the United States.


Obama means "little beach" in Japanese.[1]


In the Ritsuryō period, Obama was the capital of Wakasa Province, one of entrance of continental culture. Many temples related to the Yamato Dynasty are located in Obama, and the city is called "Nara by the sea".

In the Edo period, Obama was the capital of the Obama Domain and was the starting point of the Mackerel Road to Kyoto.

As a result of its location in the Wakasa Province area, which travelers passed through when traveling between China and Kyoto, the area was influenced by Chinese culture for a long period. There are many buildings and houses in the Sancho-machi area of the city whose design was influenced by trade with the Chinese mainland.[2]

The area was established as a city on March 30, 1951 although the area has been inhabited for centuries. Otojirō Uratani is currently the mayor of Obama.

North Korean abductions[edit]

Obama is one of the locations where Japanese citizens were abducted by North Korean agents on July 7, 1978.[3][4]


Fishing used to be the main industry, but now it is mostly supported by tourism.[1] Wakasa lacquered chopsticks, agate accessories, and other crafts are made in the area.[5]


The Wakasa Historical and Folk Museum

Fukui Prefectural University is located in Obama and has been operating only since 1992.[6] However, in this short period, the university's Research Center for Marine Bioresources has been noted for its research of preservation and in the fields of fish embryogenesis, aquaculture stock enhancement, fish disease, and microalgeal bloom.[7] The university also has schools (faculties) of Economics, Nursing, Arts and Sciences, Biotechnology, and others.[8] Medical research is done at the Obama Community Hospital.[9][10] Obama is also home to the Wakasa branch of the Fukui Prefectural Library.


The Omizu-okuri (Water Carrying) Festival is held every March 2 on which water is drawn from the Onyu River and presented to the principal image of the temple. This annual event dates back more than 1,200 years.[5] Local tourist attractions include the Myotsu-ji Temple and the surrounding Karesansui Garden.[2]

The Wakasa Historical and Folk Museum is housed in a large, modern facility. Among other items of local interest, it houses many Jomon period artifacts, including those from the important Torihama shell mound in the area.

Obama is also home to Hosshinji, a working Zen monastery.[11]


Obama Bay
Sotomo coast

International relations[edit]

Obama has sister and friendship relationships with the following cities.[12]

Sister cities[edit]

Friendship cities[edit]

Relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama[edit]

The city of Obama has received much publicity because it shares its name with former U.S. President Barack Obama. It began when Obama as a Senator gave a 2006 interview to Japanese television network TBS where he noted that, when passing through customs in Narita Airport, the official who inspected his visa said that he was from Obama.[13] The Obama City Hall heard about the interview and the mayor, Toshio Murakami, sent Senator Obama a set of the city’s famous lacquer chopsticks, a DVD about the city and a letter wishing him the best. As Senator Obama's presidential campaign progressed, more local businesses began to organize primary parties and put up "Go Obama!" posters, sell "I love Obama" T-shirts, and produce manjū (a type of Japanese confectionery) with Senator Obama's face on them. A hula group began in the town in honour of Senator Obama's home state of Hawaii. The troupe visited Honolulu in June to perform at the Pan Pacific Festival.[14]

Obama has since thanked the town for their gifts and support, saying "I look forward to a future marked by the continued friendship of our two great nations and a shared commitment to a better, freer world".[15]

There are a number of Japanese with the surname Obama. Though the former American President is of Kenyan Luo heritage, it is not uncommon for Japanese and East African names to sound alike.[16][17]

As a result of the victory by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the Mayor of Obama City announced to the Japanese press that he intends to commission a statue of Barack Obama to be put in front of the city hall "as a token of the great historical moment for the name Obama".[18] On January 20, 2009, the day that Barack Obama was sworn into office, the city of Obama celebrated the inauguration with women dancing the hula at the Hagaji Temple.[19]

On November 14, 2009, President Obama specifically acknowledged his connection with Obama by mentioning it and its citizens in a speech at Suntory Hall in Tokyo.[20]

In 2013, Obama mayor Koji Matsuzaki gave a red lacquer pen to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to give to President Obama.[21]

Film and TV[edit]

  • Cable TV Wakasa Obama, a cable television and internet services provider in Fukui Prefecture, headquartered in Obama

People from Obama[edit]

Shrines and Temples[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff (2008-11-05). "Japanese City of Obama Celebrates Namesake's Victory". Associated Press. FOX News Network, LLC. Archived from the original on 2015-04-24. Retrieved 2015-04-24. Obama, which means 'little beach' in Japanese, is a former fishing town that now relies almost entirely on tourism. 
  2. ^ a b "Wakasa Area - Japan National Tourism Organization". 
  3. ^ Individual Cases - 17 Abductees Identified by the Government of Japan, Headquarters for the Abduction Issue, Government of Japan
  4. ^ Overview and history of abduction of japanese citizens by North Korea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
  5. ^ a b Obama City, Fukui Prefecture
  6. ^ Fukui Prefectural University
  7. ^ Fukui Prefectural University
  8. ^ Fukui Prefectural University
  9. ^ Takeuchi, Hiroaki; Kubota, Toshihiko; Sato, Kazufumi; Arishima, Hidetaka. "Ultrastructure of capillary endothelium in pilocytic astrocytomas". Brain Tumor Pathol. 21 (1): 23–26. doi:10.1007/BF02482173 – via link.springer.com. 
  10. ^ Fukui, Hiroki; Murai, Toshiya (1 September 2002). "Severe weight gain induced by combination treatment with risperidone and paroxetine". Clin Neuropharmacol. 25 (5): 269–271. PMID 12410060 – via PubMed. 
  11. ^ http://www1.city.obama.fukui.jp/obm/sekai_isan/english/data/318.htm
  12. ^ "姉妹・友好都市 小浜市". 
  13. ^ "PM - Japanese town capitalises on Obama name". 
  14. ^ Japanese hula troupe has vested interest in election The Honolulu Star-Bulletin June 7, 2009
  15. ^ Strzemien, Anya (2008-11-28). "Obama, Japan Goes Crazy For Obama (VIDEO, PHOTOS)". The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 'I look forward to a future marked by the continued friendship of our two great nations and a shared commitment to a better, freer world.
    I am touched by your friendly gesture, and I wish you all the best.
    [Something in Japanese],
    Barack Obama'
      line feed character in |quote= at position 247 (help)
  16. ^ Norimitsu Onishi, Candidate Wins Support in the East. No, Farther East., The New York Times, February 19, 2008.
  17. ^ McCurry, Justin (11 February 2008). "Obama receives backing of Obama" – via The Guardian. 
  18. ^ Yomiuri Shimbun "Mayor of Obama City celebrates his namesake"
  19. ^ "Cheers across U.S. and globe". 
  20. ^ "Remarks by President Barack Obama at Suntory Hall," November 14, 2009; excerpt, "And of course, I could not come here without sending my greetings and gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan. (Applause.)"
  21. ^ Fukui city of Obama gifts U.S. president with lacquered pen February 13, 2014 Japan Times Retrieved January 31, 2016
  • Isao Soranaka: Obama: The Rise and Decline of a Seaport. In: Monumenta Nipponica, Jg. 52, Nr. 1, 1997. ISSN 0027-0741

External links[edit]